Key quotes from Bolton’s book…that we know about so far

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

The following are key quotes that have been published regarding former US National Security Advisor John Bolton’s new book. He was in office April 9, 2018 to September 10, 2019. The new book The Room Where it Happened is supposed to be out June 23. The US government is trying to stop its publication.

What follows are several reviews and the quotes they contain. There is an extract published here at the WSJ.

The Guardian review:

The Guardian has the following quotes, more details here.

“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Bolton writes.

Trump refused to issue a statement commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, saying “That was 15 years ago”

Bolton’s book quotes Trump as saying that invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that it was “really part of the United States”.

Mike Pompeo mocked the president: “He is so full of shit.”

Of the Afghanistan conflict: “This was done by a stupid person named George Bush.”

President Vladimir Putin likened Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, which “largely persuaded Trump”. [later Erdogan used this same logic regarding ANTIFA and the YPG.]

BBC notes the following:

He also says Mr Trump “remained stunningly uninformed on how to run the White House”.

Britain’s atomic deterrent came up during a meeting with Theresa May in 2018, when it was mentioned by one of the then-prime minister’s officials. According to the book, Mr Trump said: “Oh, are you a nuclear power?” Mr Bolton said he could tell it “was not intended as a joke”.

Other reviews note other details

The Washington Post says Bolton said that Trump was “stunningly uninformed.”

The Post writes: Bolton viewed Trump’s Ukraine machinations as a “drug deal,”

Perhaps the most startling new disclosure is that Trump sought political help from China’s Xi Jinping, just as he had expressed support for a Russian email dump in 2016 and Ukrainian political favors in his famous July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to Bolton, in a June 18, 2019, phone called with Xi about trade matters, Trump “then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election . . . pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.”

Bolton also notes that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at the February 2019 summit in Hanoi said that “he didn’t want Trump to do anything that would harm him politically.”

Bolton says he “wanted to brief him [Barr] on Trump’s penchant to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” including Xi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On Mattis’s resignation in December 2018, Trump’s parting line: “He’s leaving . . . I never really liked him….He’s a liberal Democrat, you know that, don’t you?”

The New York Times notes

Bolton also mentions other disconcerting situations when Trump, he says, tried to ingratiate himself to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Chinese President Xi Jinping by dangling the possibility of removing or easing pressure on the Turkish bank Halkbank and the Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei. Trump told Erdogan that Halkbank’s legal troubles for violating the administration’s sanctions on Iran would disappear once the “Obama people” who worked as prosecutors in the Southern District of New York were “replaced by his people,” Bolton writes, deeming it an ultimately empty promise. “It was as though Trump was trying to show he had as much arbitrary authority as Erdogan.”

Trump’s conversation with Xi, in Bolton’s telling, was even more nakedly transactional. In the midst of talks about trade, Trump “turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” [the government’s prepublication review process prevented publication of the actual conversation.]

On the Iranian downing of a US drone in June 2019, Trump decided to call off the strikes at the very last minute, after learning they would kill as many as 150 people. “Too many body bags,” Trump told him. “Not proportionate.”

Before a summit with Putin in Helsinki, Trump asked his advisers if Finland was a part of Russia, or whether it was a “kind of satellite of Russia.” [Trump mixed up Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with former President Hamid Karzai.]

Other details:

Bolton claims the President told White House counsel Pat Cipollone to call Attorney General Bill Barr about his desire to“arrest the reporters, force them to serve time in jail, and then demand they disclose their sources.”

On October 3, he said Ukraine, “should investigate the Bidens,” and that, “Likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” Trump said that “I haven’t” asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to do so, “but it’s certainly something we should start thinking about.”

On NATO, “We will walk out, and not defend those who have not [paid],” the president said, according to Mr Bolton.

He also hinted he could serve more than two terms: Trump replied that people were saying that the 2-term limit should be repealed; “Xi said the US had too many elections, because he didn’t want to switch away from Trump, who nodded approvingly.”

North Korea

Trump said it was a “sign a substance-free communique, have his press conference to declare victory, and then get out of town”.

Russia

“Trump told Pompeo to call Lavrov and say ‘some bureaucrat’ had published the sanctions — a call that may or may not have ever taken place,” Bolton wrote.

 

China

Trump “stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome…”would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

“Trump, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming US presidential election [in 2020], alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Mr Bolton wrote…”He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

Trump “proposed that for the remaining $350 billion of trade imbalances (by Trump’s arithmetic), the US would not impose tariffs, but he again returned to importuning Xi to buy as many American farm products as China could.”

Bolton notes, “At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do,” Bolton writes. “The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.”

On Hong Kong,  Trump said he didn’t “want to get involved…we have human-rights problems too.”

“Stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton wrote.

Hearing about suppression of Uyghur Muslims. Bolton writes of a tXi and Trump talk at the G-20 meeting in June 2019, Trump said that Xi could go ahead, it was “exactly the right thing to do.”

 

On Turkey

In talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2018 with a Justice Department investigation into a Turkish bank…Trump asked if then-acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, Bolton says, before Trump told Erdogan that he would “take care of things,” saying that the Southern District of New York prosecutors on the case were “Obama people” and would be replaced by “his people.”

Venezuela 

Trump “insisted on military options for Venezuela,”

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